There's an accounting app for that
With a crowded marketplace for accounting apps, it can be difficult to know which ones will be most beneficial for your clients and also integrate with your own working practices. George Carey takes a look at some of the best apps on offer.
There’s never been a better time to use accounting software. With an incredibly competitive marketplace offering apps for every business type and accounting skill level, there really is an app for all occasions. The only downside is that the choice can sometimes feel overwhelming.
“First and foremost, apps have to be easy to use and fit into the existing workflow in order to cause minimum disruption,” says accountant and small business adviser Nick Levine. “Apps should seek to save time through automation and by generally performing tasks faster and in a more up-to-date manner than by manual processes.”
Reflecting the new type of user now exposed to accounting apps, Zuheir Alghafeer, finance operations manager at the Pension Protection Fund, says: “Users used to always be accountants but now you see business users interacting with them, so an app needs to be user-friendly, to work well for a wide range of skill sets and familiarity with accounting processes.”
Whether you want an app that your clients will enjoy using, or something that offers excellent integration with your own processes, here’s our list of five of the best accounting apps.
The accessible one: Xero
With no limit on the number of additional users and seamless operation on a range of mobile devices, Xero offers convenience in spades and plenty of useful features. Accessibility is something that Alghafeer values highly.
“You need to be able to access an app on the full range of business devices,” he says. It’s an easy system to use, and offers regular updates to ensure the tech keeps pace with competitors –something Alghafeer sees as important for apps. He adds: “It should be cloud-based, because things are moving so quickly that you need access to constant upgrades.”
The integrator: Freshbooks
This versatile app is a great one to recommend to your small business clients, because it integrates so easily with apps that help them in other areas of their business.
With the option to enjoy uninterrupted workflow between PayPal, Basecamp, MailChimp, Gusto and Wordpress, among others, it allows them to focus on building their business rather than fixing admin glitches. It’s this ease of integration that Levine sees as an important feature of any accounting app.
The stacker: Intuit Quickbooks
The beauty of Quickbooks, in addition to a well-rounded service offering, is the ability to create your own app stack. Add a host of services and third-party apps to create a complete app to meet your needs. It also offers excellent integration with outside services. This chimes well with Alghafeer’s needs in an app.
“Communication with other, related cloud-based systems – HMRC’s, for example – is a must. It should easily connect with reporting systems to make reporting online easy,” he asserts.
The safe pair of hands: Sage
Sage offers a reassuringly recognisable name in a marketplace constantly invaded by disruptor brands – something Levine sees as important.
“The marketplaces of the main providers are becoming increasingly noisier and it’s harder to stand out. Therefore, it is important to have a strong brand familiar to many in the profession,” he comments.
Perhaps because it’s such a long established product, Sage’s customer support is some of the best in class. With 24/7 phone and email support for acute issues, alongside countless video tutorials to ease users through the early stages of ownership, this is the perfect option for people and businesses finding their feet.
The cosmopolitan one: Kashoo
With one flat rate for use, rather than a convoluted list of service plans, Kashoo is a great option for people seeking out a simple accounting app. What’s more, its multi-currency support is second to none – something Alghafeer sees as an attractive feature for any app.
“Multicurrency is important, because increasingly businesses are selling all over the world,” he comments. The app is just as versatile when it comes to dealing with credit cards, accommodating those that can occasionally cause issues.
If you decide that this isn’t the app for you, the company offers a 14-day cooling off period, too.
George Carey is a freelance journalist